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Thinking of Trying a Holiday Camp?

Down Average Street just now we're talking a great deal about this summer's holidays. A lot of us, being sensible people, are not only talking, but planning, budgeting and booking. What are we going to do? There are about 100 families in Average Street, and, to judge from past years, about 60 families will be going away this year and the rest will stay at home. Half our street is going to have a holiday in Britain and nearly all those 50 families - our holiday system being what it is - are going to take their holiday between June and September and they'll be away for about ten days or a fortnight. Let's break it down a little more. About fifteen of those families will be staying in boarding houses and the like. Eleven will be staying with friends and relations and eight in licensed hotels and pubs. Six are going caravanning, four are renting houses and cottages, two are camping and one family is staying on a boat.

The other night, watching the television I saw a holiday advertisement which I immediately awarded the Oscar* for daftness. The first shot showed Mum doing the washing-up in the jolly modern kitchen - just like home - grr. Which all brings me back to what happened to the remaining three or four families from Average Street. They went to a holiday camp. And it looks as though next year and the year after others will be copying them.

* (the Oscar - the annual U.S. award for what is judged to be a great achievement in cinema.)

Holiday camps vary widely in size. Butlin's, the biggest and best known accommodate around 8,000 to 10,000 people each, Warner's camps are generally in the 700-900 region, while Pontin's vary most widely from 240 to 3,000.

Outside the Big Three comes a whole range of mainly much smaller camps, some newly built, chalet type, miniature copies of the big ones, some based on country houses with their accommodation both in the house and the grounds.

The appeal of alf holiday camps seems to be that they contain within a certain compass most of the facilities of a oholiday at the seaside (or in some cases countryside) without the altogether overwhelming crush of a seaside town and without the long traipse on a hot day for refreshment or on a cold day for shelter. Of course, some people object to taking a holiday in the same camp as several thousand others, and would obviously be happier in the small camp which often makes its claim that it is under the personal supervision of one person or a married couple. Against this must be weighed the number of free facilities, particularly in the form of amusements, which does tend to decrease as the camp gets smaller. The bigger the camp the more likely you are to find continuous trained supervision for the children as well as facilities for amusing them. A number of the smaller camps say quite frankly that their facilities for child-minding at night, when parents want to go out, are organized among the guests. In the larger camps there is, of course, a wider range of entertainment organized with a high degree of "camper-partici-pation". Probably in the smaller camps the choice of food may well be wider than in the big camps, though here again a personal recommendation is a useful guide.

It is interesting to see that the National Association of Local Government Officers' holiday camps are among the few who actually say that they heat their chalets. Other camps might copy this, since our summers can be miserable, though the organizers might argue that they design their holiday camps so that you have plenty of warm, covered places to go to. Accommodation, in chalets with two, three and four beds seems to be fairly standard in most big camps, with a smallish extra charge for chalets with bathroom and toilet. Since holiday camps are obviously aimed at families, they all provide some facilities for children, but there are camps which do not accommodate children below three years of age.

To sum up all these varied views and information, holiday camp's seem to offer a chance of a reasonably restful and not terrifically expensive holiday, with special advantages to families with young children, and people (of whom there are many) who like company and are not snooty about who they mix with.

(Daily Worker)

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